Nonfiction | December 11, 2020

Magnet Man

I shift from foot to foot. Both my feet hurt. I’m packing magnets at my dad’s factory, and the rubber mats meant to cushion my joints from the floor don’t help.

A little to my left is bald-topped Tom, and a little to my right is chatty Candy, and in front of me is a concrete wall. If I go further to the left of Tom, the warehouse door opens out onto the parking lot, where my dad eats lunch in his car. I understand why he does—he’s a salesman, albeit one trained in the physics of ferrite, who draws complex equations for his clients in China—but still, he spends a lot of time on the phone: yak, yak, yak. I’d hate it: I’d rather pack, although I’m not allowed to pack the rare-earth bundles, so strong they could crush my fingers without enough cardboard between to keep their relentless attractions apart. Plus, the packing jobs I do are not always so good to start: a few broken shipments have come back in the mail, and sometimes I wonder if I ever properly learned to count. Candy shows me how to weigh the smaller pellet-magnets properly in batches, and that helps a little.

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